American Gymnast Michelle Goodwin Balances on the Brink of Stardom

updated 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

When Michelle Goodwin, 16, competed at the World Gymnastic Championships in Moscow last November, she unleashed her secret weapon—a new way to mount the uneven parallel bars called the Goodwin. "It appears as a brisk cartwheel, then rebounds into a half twist and front somersault," explains her coach, Tom McCarthy, 34, who spent six months perfecting the move with her. Shelly, as she is called, ranks fifth overall nationally. In Moscow she failed to achieve international ranking as she had hoped. Still, her performance was respectable for the 5'2", 101-pound high school sophomore who broke into world competition only last year. The Reading, Pa.-born daughter of a truck dispatcher and a secretary, Shelly became interested in gymnastics at 6 through an uncle who teaches physical education at a New Jersey high school. She became a gymnast five years ago and signed up with the Berks Gymnastic Academy in nearby Wyomissing to train with McCarthy. Under his tutelage she captured the Pennsylvania state championship in 1980, and at the national meet last March in Bethlehem, Pa. she copped a gold for her floor performance. At Reading High School, Shelly maintains a B average while training four hours daily. Her sights are set on making the Olympic team in 1984, but in the meantime she is gearing up for her next meeting with the Russians April 18 in Gainesville, Fla. This time Shelly is determined to score higher. Says McCarthy, "She can be very aggressive."

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